John McCain

John McCain's Campaign Field Director Arrested for Disorderly Conduct, Could Face Federal Charges

In a bizarre turn of events, U.S. Senator John McCain's field director for his 2016 re-election campaign, Blaze Baggs, was arrested by Yavapai-Prescott tribal police on February 23 and booked into county jail on a charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly tearing a sign off a casino wall in Prescott.

Court records obtained by New Times from the Prescott Justice Court show that close to midnight on Monday, February 22, Baggs allegedly tore down a "casino shuttle sign" outside Bucky's Casino,  owned by the Yavapai-Prescott tribe.

A probable cause statement from the arresting officer, J. Meza, states that surveillance video caught footage of a man "who matched Baggs physical and clothing description" walking up to the doors for the casino's shuttle and then reaching for the shuttle sign.

"Baggs attempts to tear down the sign," writes the officer in his description of the video. "Baggs then reached for the sign again and was able to tear it off the wall causing damage to the sign and wall."
While carrying the sign, Baggs "walked down the walkway waiting for a friend." Baggs showed his friend the sign, and then the video captures him "tossing the sign into the air causing it to land on the ground and become more damaged."

After watching the video, Meza says he advised Baggs that he was under arrest for disorderly conduct, which is a class-one misdemeanor under Arizona law.

Meza also writes that criminal damage and theft charges "will be charged federally at a later date." Baggs also "was given a permanent ban from all Yavapai Casino by casino staff."

Interestingly, when Officer Meza arrived at the casino, he was advised by casino staff that Baggs "was still in the casino, playing at one of the card tables."
Meza initially asked Baggs if he knew about criminal damage and theft of a casino sign, but Baggs told him, "No." 

That's when Meza reviewed the video and made a probable cause determination that a crime had occurred. Baggs was cuffed and taken to the Prescott jail for the Yavapai County sheriff's Office. He was later released on his own recognizance.

At the top of Baggs booking record, his employer is listed as "Friends of John McCain," and his occupation as "statewide director."
Read Blaze Baggs' Arrest Report

Baggs was tapped by McCain in late August 2015 for the position. He previously had worked as a field representative for Doug Ducey's successful 2014 gubernatorial campaign during the general election.

The McCain campaign has not responded to repeated requests for comment about Baggs' arrest.

Investigative journalist John Dougherty assisted with this report.

Update 4:43 PM: McCain campaign communications director Lorna Romero issued the following statement via e-mail:

"An unfortunate action was taken by a campaign staff member a few weeks ago, which is being addressed through the judicial process. Additional disciplinary actions are being taken by the campaign.”
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons